Jordan Hicks

NFC West Rumors: Hicks, Higbee, 49ers

One of two Cardinals linebackers mentioned in trade rumors this offseason, Jordan Hicks will join Chandler Jones in being with the team when it begins its season Sunday. The Cardinals gave Hicks permission to seek a trade in May, after drafting Zaven Collins in Round 1 and anointing him the starter alongside Isaiah Simmons. But nothing materialized. GM Steve Keim said Hicks, despite his demotion, will play “a strong role” on this year’s Arizona defense, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. Citing Simmons’ positional flexibility, Keim said there will be times when Simmons, Collins and Hicks line up together. The Cards have devoted considerable resources to their off-ball linebacker spots, drafting Simmons and Collins in the first round — after taking Haason Reddick in the 2017 first round and slotting him off the ball for most of his run — and signing Hicks to a four-year, $36MM deal in 2019. Hicks accepted a $3MM salary cut in March, and the 32-game Cardinal starter’s workload will certainly be reduced from the 100% and 92% defensive snap rates of the past two seasons.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • The Rams still reside near the bottom of the NFL in cap space, but they created some breathing room by restructuring Tyler Higbee‘s deal. The team added $1.65MM in space by moving some of Higbee’s base salary into a signing bonus, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com tweets. Prior to this move, the franchise held less than $1MM in cap room. Higbee signed a four-year, $31MM extension in 2019. This week’s move dropped his 2021 base salary to just more than $1MM.
  • Josh Norman is set to play a 10th NFL season and do so with a fourth team, having signed with the 49ers this week. However, Norman’s camp and the 49ers discussed a deal for months, the veteran cornerback said Friday (via KNBR). Norman, 33, has played with Carolina, Washington and Buffalo. He will join a 49ers team that was already thin at cornerback before listing Emmanuel Moseley as doubtful for Week 1. San Francisco has injury-prone Jason Verrett stationed as its other top outside corner. Norman, who has not returned to a Pro Bowl since his standout 2015 contract year, played 344 defensive snaps with the Bills last season.
  • The 49ers will begin their season without one of their assistant coaches. Linebackers coach Johnny Holland recently stepped away from the team due to a battle with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com notes. This is the second time Holland has left the 49ers because of his cancer battle; he did so in 2019 after initially being diagnosed. The fifth-year 49ers assistant began treatment this week. Holland, 56, has been an NFL assistant for more than 20 years, beginning in 1995 with the Packers, for whom he played linebacker in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Holland has worked with Kyle Shanahan dating back to their days as Texans assistants in the 2000s.

Jordan Hicks On Reduced Role With Cardinals

It’s been a difficult offseason for Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks. He accepted a substantial pay cut in March, and then he watched his club select LB Zaven Collins with the No. 16 overall pick of the draft. Shortly thereafter, the team announced that Collins would take over Hicks’ starting ILB role, and Hicks was given permission to seek a trade.

Hicks appreciated the fact that the Cardinals were upfront with him about their plan, and that they agreed to work with him to find a trade partner, but he understandably hoped that he would have a legitimate opportunity to compete for a starting job.

I respected the fact that [GM Steve Keim] told me straight up [that Collins would be starting],” Hicks said (via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com). “I respected the fact that he told me he was going to work with me to try to honor a trade. And, so, there’s a part of you that respects that, but then there’s a part that just wishes you had had an opportunity to compete, which is all I asked for.”

It is somewhat curious that Arizona has already given a rookie a starting job over an established veteran like Hicks. Since joining the Cardinals as a free agent in 2019, the 29-year-old has started all 32 games for the club, and while Pro Football Focus’ metrics have not been especially high on his work, he has been among the league leaders in tackles.

On the other hand, Collins certainly offers more upside, and the fact that there has been no reported interest in Hicks from rival clubs despite his eminently reasonable salary suggests that the Cardinals are making the right call. At the time of the trade request, we heard that a swap was not particularly likely, and that is how things have played out thus far. Still, underperformance or an injury elsewhere might lead to a new opportunity for Hicks.

In the meantime, he is mentoring Collins and second-year ‘backer Isaiah Simmons to the best of his ability. He says he has been impressed with Collins and is excited about the 2021 campaign, but he was clear about his preference to be a starter somewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals LB Chandler Jones Skipping Minicamp

The Cardinals kicked off their mandatory three-day minicamp today, but one of their top players wasn’t in attendance. Darren Urban of the team’s website reports that Chandler Jones was a no-show at practice today. Coach Kliff Kingsbury said that Jones (along with linebacker Jordan Hicks) isn’t expected to be in attendance at all this week.

[RELATED: Cardinals Give Jordan Hicks Permission To Seek Trade]

“We’ve been in communication with both guys, we know the situations and I’ll leave that dialogue between us,” Kingsbury said. “Nothing else to report on that.”

It’s not too difficult to connect the dots here. Jones is entering the final year of his contract, and the 31-year-old is likely putting some pressure on the front office as he pursues a new pact. As Urban notes, the veteran’s absence is especially notable since Jones had earned a reputation of “a player who showed up to everything in the offseason, including all voluntary work.”

Fortunately, Jones was in attendance during Monday’s media day, so the three-time Pro Bowler clearly doesn’t expect his pseudo-holdout to get out of hand.

Jones was traded to Arizona from the Patriots in 2016, and the Cardinals gave him a five-year, $82.5MM deal a year later. During his first four seasons in Arizona, Jones didn’t miss a game while averaging 15 sacks per season. He appeared in the first five games of 2020, collecting 11 tackles, one sack, and seven QB hits. However, a torn bicep forced him to miss the rest of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Give Jordan Hicks Permission To Seek Trade

The Cardinals have given Jordan Hicks permission to seek a trade (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). The veteran linebacker could still stay on board as a reserve, but his starting job as the MIKE ‘backer has been given to new first-round pick, Zaven Collins.

It’s not a shock to hear that Collins, the No. 16 overall pick in last month’s draft, is ticketed for the starting lineup. Still, Hicks is a respected figure in the locker room and he’s already taken a pay cut to make the numbers work.

Originally, he was set to have a $9MM cap charge with a $5MM base salary plus bonuses. Now, the 28-year-old (29 in June) is ticketed for a base salary of $2MM with $1MM in per-game bonuses this year for a lighter figure of $6MM. Hicks also reduced his 2022 compensation to a $4.25MM base salary, plus a $750K roster bonus and $1MM in per-game roster bonuses.

Hicks, a former third-rounder, spent the first four seasons of his career with the Eagles before signing a four-year, $36MM deal ($20MM guaranteed) with the Cardinals in 2019. Since then, he’s started all 32 games for Arizona over the past two years, compiling 268 stops, 11 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks.

As Rapoport notes, however, a trade is not terribly likely (video link). He believes Hicks will indeed remain in the desert in 2021 as a backup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals LB Jordan Hicks Takes Pay Cut

Jordan Hicks has taken a sizable pay cut to stay in Arizona. Veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer writes that the veteran linebacker has restructured the final two years of his contract.

Hicks was set to have a $9MM cap charge via a $5MM base salary, a $1MM roster bonus, and $3MM of his original signing bonus. The 28-year-old will now have a base salary of $2MM, and the team replaced the roster bonus with $1MM in per-game bonuses, thus leading to a reduced cap figure of $6MM.

Hicks also reduced his 2022 compensation — which were identical to his 2021 numbers — to a $4.25MM base salary, a $750K roster bonus, and $1MM in per-game roster bonuses. As Balzer explains, that roster bonus will likely be due at the beginning of the 2022 league year, at which point the Cardinals will have to decide whether they want to keep the veteran around.

The former third-rounder spent the first four seasons of his career with the Eagles before signing a four-year, $36MM deal ($20MM guaranteed) with the Cardinals in 2019. Hicks has started all 32 games for Arizona over the past two years, compiling 268 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. Hicks will likely slide back into the starting lineup in 2021, although Isaiah Simmons, Tanner Vallejo, and/or Zeke Turner could push him for playing time.

West Notes: Broncos, Chiefs, Johnson

The Bryce Callahan situation is moving closer toward the Broncos not seeing him on the field this season. After a report surfaced indicating the offseason signing now may miss the season, Vic Fangio said (via the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran, on Twitter) seeing Callahan on the field this year has become a 50-50 proposition. Fangio said earlier this week he was hopeful his former Bears pupil would suit up in 2019. The Broncos signed both Callahan and Kareem Jackson to patch up their secondary, but the former continues to struggle to shake off the foot trouble that ended his 2018 season early. With contract-year standout Chris Harris still a trade candidate, though a player that may end up staying, the Broncos’ long-term cornerback situation is in as bleak of a place since before the franchise’s 2004 Champ Bailey acquisition.

Here is the latest from the West divisions, shifting first to another key Broncos signing:

  • Denver’s Ja’Wuan James investment has gone almost as poorly as its Callahan addition. James suffered an injury in the first quarter of the Broncos’ Week 1 game and has missed every snap since. However, the well-paid right tackle is expected to start this week, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. James is believed to be set to play in a part-time capacity, with a three-tackle rotation between he, Garett Bolles and Elijah Wilkinson in the cards. Wilkinson has started the past six Broncos games at right tackle.
  • In addition to Patrick Mahomes‘ Week 8 absence, the Chiefs will be without Frank Clark. The team declared its top defensive end out with a neck injury. Chris Jones, Kendall Fuller and Eric Fisher will miss another game as well. Clark broke out for a dominant performance against Bolles in Kansas City’s Week 7 win, but the offseason acquisition will have to wait until at least Week 9 to build on that performance.
  • However, the Chiefs will have Sammy Watkins back. The oft-injured wide receiver suffered a hamstring injury in Week 5, but ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher notes he will play against the Packers. In Year 2 of a $16MM-AAV deal, Watkins has not caught a pass since Week 4.
  • David Johnson enters this week’s Cardinals game in the same place he did the past two games: as a game-time decision. Kliff Kingsbury said (via AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban, on Twitter) the former All-Pro back does not need practice to suit up for a game, but with Chase Edmonds playing well in relief, this shapes up as a true game-time call. Johnson suited up for Week 7 but spent most of his afternoon on the sideline. Both Christian Kirk and Jordan Hicks are game-day calls as well.

Cardinals To Sign Jordan Hicks

The Cardinals aren’t done signing linebackers. After inking outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, Arizona has agreed to terms on a contract with inside linebacker Jordan Hicks, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Rapoport reports the deal is for four years and $36MM. Hicks will get a $12MM signing bonus, and $20MM of the deal is fully guaranteed. Hicks comes to the desert from the Eagles, after spending the first four years of his career in Philadelphia. A third round pick in 2015, Hicks became a near-immediate starter in Philly.

Hicks has always been a good player when on the field, but he does have a somewhat lengthy injury history. His rookie season was cut short by a torn pectoral, and he missed the final nine games of the 2017 season after tearing his Achilles. He then missed four games last year with a calf injury. The Cardinals are signaling that they’ll be aggressive rebuilding their defense as they transition into the Kliff Kingsbury era.

It’s a lot of money to plunk down, but if Hicks can stay healthy he should be worth it. He earned great marks from Pro Football Focus last year, grading out as the tenth-best linebacker in the league by PFF’s metrics. New defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will be running a 3-4 defense in Arizona, and now the Cardinals have Hicks to play alongside 2017 first round pick Haason Reddick in the middle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Eagles, Sproles, Dolphins, Redskins

The Eagles will have plenty of roster decisions to make heading into the 2019 season. Two of the names at the top of the list include veteran running Darren Sproles and oft-injured linebacker Jordan Hicks, Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com writes.

After originally declaring this as his final season, Sproles has looked like a vintage version of himself, leading many to wonder if he would come back for his 15th NFL season. One person who would love to have the pass-catching back return is Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.

“I think Darren Sproles would be a great addition” for 2019, Pederson said. “He’s a great leader. he works hard, he’s a great mentor to a lot of young players. I think anybody would love to have a Darren Sproles. I mean, I would.”

He didn’t offer the same ringing endorsement for Hicks. Despite being a noted playmaker who ranks third on the team in tackles in 2018, the Texas Longhorns product has missed 21 games in his first four seasons, including four this season.

“I’ll worry about the roster in the spring when I get to the spring,” Pederson said. “Jordan’s been a big part of our success here and he helped us win the game last week and he’ll help us win another on Sunday.”

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Sticking with the Eagles, thanks once again to Nick Foles, the team is currently in the fight for the last playoff spot in the NFC. Should they make it, there will undoubtedly be a contingent of fans hoping Philly will bring back the veteran in 2019. However, that is unlikely to happen, writes Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Brandt. With Foles on the books for $20MM next year, it is much more likely the Eagles do not exercise his option and make him a free agent. If he goes on another magical run in January, however, every option has to be on the table.
  • Dolphins vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum is not expected back with the team in 2019, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. The move would end his four-year run with the team. Head coach Adam Gase is expected to be retained. Salguero also has heard a few of the names as possible replacements include Dan Marino and Dawn Aponte.
  • Following the release of D.J. Swearinger, one of the Redskins’ top needs this season has quickly become safety, Ben Standig of NBC Sports writes. Coupled with the potential departure of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Redskins would be down both of their safeties heading into 2019. Should they address the issue in the draft, the team could target Alabama’s Deionte Thompson or Virginia’s Juan Thornhill, two of the top-ranked prospects at free and strong safety, respectively.

NFC Notes: Thomas, Bradford, Eagles, Reid

The Seahawks have indeed fined safety Earl Thomas, who missed practice for non-injury reasons for the second consecutive week. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the Seahawks — who were considering imposing a substantial fine on Thomas last Sunday — fined the star defender for missing practice and for “other things.” Rapoport adds that “communication should increase going forward,” but it is presently unclear as to whether he is referring to communication between Thomas and Seattle or between Seattle and other clubs who may want to trade for Thomas. We heard earlier today that the Steelers were interested in Thomas, but there has been no communication between Seattle and Pittsburgh at this point.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds that the Seahawks are still asking for a second-round pick for Thomas, and that the Chiefs remain interested (though Kansas City does not want to give up a second-rounder). The Cowboys, of course, offered a second-round pick to Seattle earlier this year, but the Seahawks wanted more from Dallas at the time since the two teams were set to play each other last week. Now that the Cowboys-Seahawks matchup has taken place, perhaps the Seahawks will be more willing to consider the Cowboys’ offer, but Rapoport indicates (video link) that the Seahawks want two second round picks in exchange for Thomas, which seems like an especially lofty asking price.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Sam Bradford is now the Cardinals‘ No. 3 quarterback, per Schefter, who says that going forward, rookie Josh Rosen will be the starter and will be backed up by Mike Glennon (Twitter link). That means that Bradford will generally be inactive on game days and will miss out on his active roster bonuses of $312,500 per game, a situation we explored in more detail last week.
  • Another tough blow for Rams outside linebacker Dominique Easley. Per the team’s official website, Easley, who has suffered three torn ACLs since 2011, may be heading for his fourth surgery in the last seven years. Head coach Sean McVay said that Easley, who converted to outside linebacker during training camp, is suffering complications from his previous injuries.
  • Prior to signing him a few days ago, the Panthers did not ask new safety Eric Reid about his anthem protests or his collusion case against the league, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. GM Marty Hurney said team ownership was not involved in the signing, and that it was a purely football move.
  • Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery will make his 2018 debut today, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (via Twitter). Rapoport (video link) reports that Jeffery’s status for this week was up in the air because of a virus that made him seriously ill, but that his shoulder is good to go.
  • As Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes, the Eagles have four prominent starters playing out the final year of their respective contracts: Jordan Hicks, Ronald Darby, Jay Ajayi, and Brandon Graham. Even if the Eagles wait until after the 2019 season to give quarterback Carson Wentz what will surely be a massive extension, Philadelphia has to plan for that contract now, which means the club will have some difficult decisions to make with respect to its impending free agents. McLane posits that Hicks is the most likely of the above-named players to be retained, and he examines the futures of all four players in detail.
  • Jane Slater of the NFL Network reports that Cowboys WR Terrance Williams will be inactive today, and that the recently re-signed Brice Butler will be leaned upon more heavily as a result (Twitter link). Williams, the most expensive receiver on Dallas’ roster, may be facing a suspension stemming from his May arrest and recently missed practice, though that absence was reportedly an excused one and was unrelated to the possible suspension. Williams, though, has just two catches for 18 yards this season, and the team wants to give someone else a shot.

Extra Points: Safeties, Eagles, Peterson

With Eric Reid, Tre Boston and Kenny Vaccaro unemployed after 2 1/2 months of free agency, safety market’s served as a persistent talking about this offseason. One former defensive coordinator attributed this oddity to teams having difficulty placing values on modern safeties due to myriad responsibilities. An agent for a top safety has a darker view of what’s transpiring.

(Teams) are basically avoiding everyone because they’re ignoring Reid,” the agent told CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. “That’s exactly how I am looking at it, absolutely. Our (client) hasn’t done anything like that in his past and neither have most of these guys. But that’s exactly what we think is going on here. They just shut the safety market down entirely, and the guy who got paid, by and large, didn’t make much.

It’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever seen that you can tell us that this group of safeties aren’t worth signing, period, at this point. And saying maybe some other guys have turned down $2MM or $2.5MM, but we have a pretty damn good safety and we haven’t even seen money like that on the table. I know for our guy, we haven’t had a contract offer at all; not one on paper and only one verbal offer, and that offer was for the league minimum with a split and no guaranteed money. So that’s not even an offer; that’s an insult. For these guys to have no jobs right now you can’t tell me ‘that’s just the market.’ That’s BS.”

“The guy who got paid” is likely Morgan Burnett, the other member of what was viewed by some as the top quartet. The Steelers signed him for three years and $14.35MM — 27th in the league in terms of AAV. Reid currently has a collusion grievance against the NFL pending, but Boston and Vaccaro are both in their primes and have received scant interest. Our Rory Parks asked PFR readers which of these players will sign first, and Vaccaro is winning that vote. Both Reid and Vaccaro appeared on PFR’s original Top 50 Free Agents list.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Adrian Peterson is also trying to fetch a contract, though age and injury concerns are likely to blame for his unattached status. Peterson mentioned the Texans and Saints again as possible fits while adding some other teams to the mix. Although, he hasn’t received much interest as of yet. “You know obviously I’ve mentioned Houston a couple of times,” Peterson said on a YouTube video (via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk). “I feel like Green Bay wouldn’t be a bad look as well. Carolina. There’s some options out there. You know Miami. Down there in (Los Angeles). That would be a nice look, too, with Todd Gurley. You see around the league they have a two-back system. Guys are not really not pounding the ball 20, 30 times a game, so I think that leaves the door open for a couple of opportunities for me.”
  • The Eagles saw Jordan Hicks participate in individual drills during OTAs, per Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.com. Hicks ruptured an Achilles’ tendon in Week 7 of last year but is believed to be ahead of schedule. After releasing Mychal Kendricks, the Eagles are counting on their middle linebacker to return.
  • Derek Barnett practiced fully for the Eagles, Kempski notes.. The second-year defensive end underwent sports hernia surgery shortly after the season ended, and it appears he’s recovered sufficiently.
  • An agent who represents some upper-echelon quarterbacks expects Aaron Rodgers to sign a deal that includes $110MM fully guaranteed within the contract’s first three years, and La Canfora writes that number may be low. Matt Ryan‘s $94.5MM in full guarantees represents the league’s current bar, and Rodgers, despite having two years left on his current Packers contract, should be able to demand a figure north of that.